A plan for competitive, green and resilient industries

We, Renew Europe, want our Union to fulfil its promise of prosperity and opportunities for our fellow Europeans. We have championed initiatives to make our continent freer, fairer and greener, but much more remains to be done.

We are convinced that Europe has what it takes to become the global industrial leader, especially in green and digital technologies. Yet it is faced with higher energy prices and lower levels of investment, which creates a double risk of internal and external fragmentation.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine has shown us that our European way of life cannot be taken for granted. While we stand unwaveringly at the side of our Ukrainian friends and commit to the rebuilding of their homeland, we also need to protect our freedom and prosperity.

That is why Europe needs an urgent and ambitious plan for a competitive, productive and innovative industry ‘made in Europe’. Our proposals below would translate into many more jobs, a faster green transition and increased geopolitical influence.

We must improve the conditions for companies, big and small, to innovate, to grow and to thrive globally.

1. Reforms to kick start the European economy: A European Clean Tech, Competitiveness and Innovation Act

While the EU can be proud of its single market, we must improve the conditions for companies, big and small, to innovate, to grow and to thrive globally.

  • In addition to the acceleration of the deployment of sustainable energy, we call on the Commission to propose a European Clean Tech, Competitiveness and Innovation Act, which would:
  • While the EU can be proud of its single market, we must improve the conditions for companies, big and small, to innovate, to grow and to thrive globally.
  • In addition to the acceleration of the deployment of sustainable energy, we call on the Commission to propose a European Clean Tech, Competitiveness and Innovation Act, which would:
  • Cut red tape and administrative burden, focusing on delivering solutions to our companies, particularly for SMEs and startups.
  • Adapt state aid rules for companies producing clean technologies and energies.
  • Introduce fast-track permitting for clean and renewable energies and for industrial projects of general European interest.
  • Streamline the process for important Projects of Common European Interest, with adequate administrative resources.
  • Guarantee EU-wide access to affordable energy for our industries.
  • Strengthen the existing instruments for a just transition of carbon-intensive industries, as they are key to fighting climate change.
  • Facilitate private financing by completing the Capital Markets Union to allow our SMEs and startups to scale up.
  • Set the right conditions to increase Europe’s global share of research and development spending and reach our own target at 3 percent of our GDP.
  • Build up the European Innovation Council to develop breakthrough technologies.
  • Deliver a highly skilled workforce for our industry.
  • Deepen the single market by fully enforcing existing legislation and further harmonization of standards in the EU as well as with third countries.

We need to reduce more rapidly our economic dependencies from third countries, which make our companies and our economies vulnerable.

2. Investments supporting our industry to thrive: A European Sovereignty Fund and Reform Act

While the EU addresses, with unity, all the consequences of the war in Ukraine, we need to reduce more rapidly our economic dependencies from third countries, which make our companies and our economies vulnerable.

In addition to the new framework for raw materials, we call on the Commission to:

  • Create a European Sovereignty Fund, by revising the MFF and mobilizing private investments, to increase European strategic investments across the Union, such as the production on our soil of critical inputs, technologies and goods, which are key to the green and digital transitions.
  • Carry out a sovereignty test to screen European legislation and funds, both existing and upcoming, to demonstrate that they neither harm the EU’s capacity to act autonomously, nor create new dependencies.
  • Modernize the Stability and Growth Pact to incentivize structural reforms and national investments with real added value for our open strategic autonomy, in areas like infrastructure, resources and technologies.

While the EU has to resist protectionist measures, we will always want to promote an open economy with fair competition.

3. Initiatives creating a global level playing field:

A New Generation of Partnerships in the World Act

While the EU has to resist protectionist measures, we will always want to promote an open economy with fair competition.

  • In addition to all the existing reforms made during this mandate, notably on public procurement and foreign subsidies, we call on the Commission to:
  • Make full use of the EU’s economic and political power regarding current trade partners to ensure we get the most for our industry exports and imports, while promoting our values and standards, not least human rights and the Green Deal.
  • Promote new economic partnerships with democratic countries so we can face climate change and all the consequences of the Russian aggression together.
  • Ensure the diversification of supply chains to Europe, particularly regarding critical technologies and raw materials, based on a detailed assessment of current dependencies and alternative sources.
  • Use all our trade policy instruments to promote our prosperity and preserve the single market from distortions from third countries.
  • Take recourse to dispute settlement mechanisms available at WTO level whenever necessary to promote rules-based trade.
  • Adopt a plan to increase our continent’s attractiveness for business projects.
  • Create a truly European screening of the most sensitive foreign investments.
  • We, Renew Europe, believe that taken together these initiatives will foster the development of a competitive and innovative European industry fit for the 21st century. It will pave the way for a better future for Europeans that is more prosperous and more sustainable.



Source link

#plan #competitive #green #resilient #industries

Brazil’s Lula seeks to reverse Amazon deforestation

Shaking a traditional rattle, Brazil’s incoming head of Indigenous affairs recently walked through every corner of the agency’s headquarters — even its coffee room — as she invoked help from ancestors during a ritual cleansing.

The ritual carried extra meaning for Joenia Wapichana, Brazil’s first Indigenous woman to command the agency charged with protecting the Amazon rainforest and its people.

Once she is sworn in next month under newly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Wapichana promises to clean house at an agency that critics say has allowed the Amazon’s resources to be exploited at the expense of the environment.

As Wapichana performed the ritual, Indigenous people and government officials enthusiastically chanted “Yoohoo! Funai is ours!’’ — a reference to the agency she will lead.

Environmentalists, Indigenous people and voters sympathetic to their causes were important to Lula’s narrow victory over former President Jair Bolsonaro.

Now Lula is seeking to fulfill campaign pledges he made to them on a wide range of issues, from expanding Indigenous territories to halting a surge in illegal deforestation.

To carry out these goals, Lula is appointing well-known environmentalists and Indigenous people to key positions at Funai and other agencies that Bolsonaro had filled with allies of agribusiness and military officers.

In Lula’s previous two terms as president, he had a mixed record on environmental and Indigenous issues. And he is certain to face obstacles from pro-Bolsonaro state governors who still control swaths of the Amazon. But experts say Lula is taking the right first steps.

The federal officials Lula has already named to key posts “have the national and international prestige to reverse all the environmental destruction that we have suffered over these four years of the Bolsonaro government,” said George Porto Ferreira, an analyst at Ibama, Brazil’s environmental law-enforcement agency.

Bolsonaro’s supporters, meanwhile, fear that Lula’s promise of stronger environmental protections will hurt the economy by reducing the amount of land open for development, and punish people for activities that had previously been allowed.

Some supporters with ties to agribusiness have been accused of providing financial and logistical assistance to rioters who earlier this month stormed Brazil’s presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court.

When Bolsonaro was president, he defanged Funai and other agencies responsible for environmental oversight. This enabled deforestation to soar to its highest level since 2006, as developers and miners who took land from Indigenous people faced few consequences.

Between 2019 and 2022, the number of fines handed out for illegal activities in the Amazon declined by 38% compared with the previous four years, according to an analysis of Brazilian government data by the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental nonprofit groups.

One of the strongest signs yet of Lula’s intentions to reverse these trends was his decision to return Marina Silva to lead the country’s environmental ministry. Silva formerly held the job between 2003 and 2008, a period when deforestation declined by 53%. A former rubber-tapper from Acre state, Silva resigned after clashing with government and agribusiness leaders over environmental policies she deemed to be too lenient.

Silva strikes a strong contrast with Bolsonaro’s first environment minister, Ricardo Salles, who had never set foot in the Amazon when he took office in 2019 and resigned two years later following allegations that he had facilitated the export of illegally felled timber.

Other measures Lula has taken in support of the Amazon and its people include:

  • Signing a decree that would rejuvenate the most significant international effort to preserve the rainforest — the Amazon Fund. The fund, which Bolsonaro had gutted, has received more than $1.2 billion, mostly from Norway, to help pay for sustainable development of the Amazon.
  • Revoking a Bolsonaro decree that allowed mining in Indigenous and environmental protection areas.
  • Creating a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, which will oversee everything from land boundaries to education. This ministry will be led by Sonia Guajajara, the country’s first Indigenous woman in such a high government post.

“It won’t be easy to overcome 504 years in only four years. But we are willing to use this moment to promote a take-back of Brazil’s spiritual force,” Guajajara said during her induction ceremony, which was delayed by the damage pro-Bolsonaro rioters caused to the presidential palace.

The Amazon rainforest, which covers an area twice the size of India, acts as a buffer against climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide. But Bolsonaro viewed management of the Amazon as an internal affair, causing Brazil’s global reputation to take a hit. Lula is trying to undo that damage.

During the UN’s climate summit in Egypt in November, Lula pledged to end all deforestation by 2030 and announced his country’s intention to host the COP30 climate conference in 2025. Brazil had been scheduled to host the event in 2019, but Bolsonaro canceled it in 2018 right after he was elected.

While Lula has ambitious environmental goals, the fight to protect the Amazon faces complex hurdles. For example, getting cooperation from local officials won’t be easy.

Six out of nine Amazonian states are run by Bolsonaro allies. Those include Rondonia, where settlers of European descent control local power and have dismantled environmental legislation through the state assembly; and Acre, where a lack of economic opportunities is driving rubber-tappers who had long fought to preserve the rainforest to take up cattle grazing instead.

The Amazon has also been plagued for decades by illegal gold mining, which employs tens of thousands of people in Brazil and other countries, such as Peru and Venezuela. The illegal mining causes mercury contamination of rivers that Indigenous peoples rely upon for fishing and drinking.

“Its main cause is the state’s absence,” says Gustavo Geiser, a forensics expert with the Federal Police who has worked in the Amazon for over 15 years.

One area where Lula has more control is in designating Indigenous territories, which are the best preserved regions in the Amazon.

Lula is under pressure to create 13 new Indigenous territories — a process that had stalled under Bolsonaro, who kept his promise not to grant “one more inch” of land to Indigenous peoples.

A major step will be to expand the size of Uneiuxi, part of one of the most remote and culturally diverse regions of the world that is home to 23 peoples.

The process of expanding the boundaries of Uneiuxi started four decades ago, and the only remaining step is a presidential signature, which will increase its size by 37% to 551,000 hectares (2,100 square miles).

“Lula already indicated that he would not have any problem doing that,” said Kleber Karipuna, a close aide of Guajajara.

(AP)

Source link

#Brazils #Lula #seeks #reverse #Amazon #deforestation

Volunteers plant mini-forests in Paris to slow climate change, tackle heatwaves

French volunteers are using a pioneering Japanese tree-planting method to create pocket forests in Paris in the hope they will slow climate change, create biodiversity hotspots and tackle the growing number of heatwaves in the capital.

On a damp Saturday afternoon in a southern suburb of Paris, a young boy of 9 wields a spade to plant a sapling on an abandoned strip of land.

He isn’t that much taller than the young tree he is planting. The afternoon rain has churned the ground beneath him into mud. He casts his spade aside and clears the clay earth with his hands.

Along with his proud grandmother, and his fellow volunteers, he’s immersed in planting a mini-forest, also known as a pocket forest, besides a busy motorway in the neighbourhood of Chevilly-Larue, 9.3 kilometres south of central Paris.

French non-profit Boomforest has organised a tree-planting initiative, drawing a dozen volunteers of all ages, clad in beanies and boots as they brave the cold and rain.

Grazia Valla, 79, a former journalist, said she “jumped at the chance to do something concrete” about climate change and show her grandson how to plant trees.

“He loves going to the community vegetable garden,” she said, casting an affectionate look in his direction. “Whenever I look after him, he’s always clamouring to go there.”

“Not every child has the chance to see how vegetables grow and taste them,” she said, applauding the initiative. “We are very interested in everything to do with nature.”

Maxim Timothée, 31, was happy to be outdoors and was motivated by the simple, symbolic act of planting a tree.

“It does feel really special to plant a tree,” he said, taking a brief pause from cutting into the damp clay. “It’s not just an object. I feel connected to the life of this tree. I want to protect it. I planted it.”

Pocket forests are popping up all over France in the hope they will tackle climate change and create biodiversity hotspots. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

Despite the drab weather, Timothée said it felt good to be taking action, rather than just sitting at home ruminating on the problems of climate change and the sharp decline in biodiversity.

The Miyawaki method

Mini-forests were first developed in the 1970s by the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who studied the relics of centuries-old forests growing around sacred temples and shrines.

Miyawaki found they were not only thriving without human intervention – they were richer and more resilient than more recently planted forests.

In his study of ancient primary forests, Miyawaki claimed that densely planted indigenous species, grown in carefully prepared soil at four different heights to provide multiple layers of coverage, grew up to 10 times faster and captured more carbon than standard managed forests.

Miyawaki went on to monitor the planting of more than 1,500 forests worldwide, claiming that a forest as small as 100 square metres could be home to exceptional levels of biodiversity.

Advocates of Miyawaki forests have adapted his methods and transported them around the world as cities look to curb the effects of climate change, restore degraded land, create biodiversity hotspots and sequester greater amounts of carbon.

Forests the size of tennis courts have been planted in Beirut, in cities in Asia, all over India, and increasingly through Europe.

Paris planted its first mini-forest on the northern edge of the city ringroad at the Porte de Montreuil in March 2018 with Boomforest’s grant from the French capital’s participatory budget. 

“Ninety-five percent of the trees planted there have survived,” says Guillaume Dozier, 33, a regular Boomforest volunteer, as he carried compost in a wheelbarrow to mulch the soil around the newly planted saplings.

Saplings are planted closely together in keeping with the tree-planting method pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Volunteers with the French non-profit Boomforest plant a mini-forest by a motorway in Chevilly Larue.
Saplings are planted closely together in keeping with the tree-planting method pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki. Volunteers with the French non-profit Boomforest plant a mini-forest by a motorway in Chevilly Larue. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

“The trees have now grown to a height of nearly four to five metres,” he reports with delight, adding that biodiversity in the mini-forest is now thriving.

“Every time we go there we notice more and more insects and birds that weren’t there before,” Dozier says, explaining that they were setting up a programme to monitor the species gathering there.

Motorways are “an extremely hostile environment” for birds and insects, says Dozier over the roar of traffic, explaining that Val de Marne authorities had given them the land by the side of the road to plant the new forest.

By recreating the same richness and density of a wild forest, the new trees will provide shelter for hundreds of small mammals, insects and birds, Dozier continues.

Unlike artificial forests planted for timber production, where the trees are laid out in neat lines and planted 10 metres apart, trees in Miyawaki forests are planted closely together.

As many as three trees per square metre were being planted at random by the side of the motorway, with the slender young saplings clustered closely together.

Planting a single tree has been shown to have the same cooling effect as 10 air conditioners. But trees are social and fare much better when planted in the company of fellow trees, explains Dozier.

“They’ll give each other shade, and they’ll be able to exchange water, nutrients and information. If one of them is under attack, they’ll be able to warn the others. For example, they’ll make their leaves bitter to make them less edible for the attacker,” he says. 

Volunteers on January 14, 2023 hope that the mini-forest will help slow the effects of climate change.
Volunteers on January 14, 2023 hope that the mini-forest will help slow the effects of climate change. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

All of the saplings are local French species. By local, the City of Paris defines French indigenous plants as those in the region before AD 1500, Hannah Lewis explains in her book, “Mini-Forest Revolution: Using the Miyawaki method to rewild the world”. But the Boomforest team carried out additional research to ensure their trees and shrubs were the most locally adapted species, and would cohabit well.

Oaks, ashes, beeches and willows are planted in the centre, while shrubs such as hazel, holly and charcoal are planted around the edges. Just 15 different species of plants were planted that weekend but as many as 31 local trees and shrubs have been planted at Boomforest’s other projects.

Pocket forests in Paris

Proponents of pocket forests also hope they can make a city as dense as Paris more habitable in the heat.

In the summer of 2022, Paris sweltered in three successive heatwaves over a total of 33 days, and temperatures in the French capital hit near-record highs of 40 degrees Celsius.

The lack of trees, and the shade and quiet they provide – Paris has about 9% tree coverage – was conspicuous as the city became a furnace.

Parisians wilted in the city’s paved streets as the asphalt, concrete and metal from buildings soaked up the baking heat and beamed it back out again.

Paris City Hall has vowed to plant 170,000 trees in the French capital by 2026. But their felling of 76 ancient plane trees in April last year, to make way for garden spaces, sparked the wrath of environmentalists including Aux Arbres Citoyens and the GNSA, groups that fight against tree felling.

Green activists also say that newly planted saplings are no competition for the cover provided by a decades-old tree, and that young trees are particularly vulnerable to drought.

Eliziame Siqueira said her concern about climate change had sparked her to take concrete action and join the tree-planting initiative on January 14, 2023.
Eliziame Siqueira said her concern about climate change had sparked her to take concrete action and join the tree-planting initiative on January 14, 2023. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24

Critics of Miyawaki-style forests add that mini-forests are expensive to plant and that the science behind planting them in Europe is not sufficiently robust. A 2010 study of a mini-forest in Sardinia, one of the rare studies on mini-forests in Europe, put the tree mortality rate after 12 years at between 61 and 84 percent.

Despite the Paris authorities’ seeming enthusiasm for planting trees, Dozier conceded it was hard to find space in the city centre for them.

“Paris is a bit of a museum,” he said wryly, adding that mini-forests have only been planted at the gates of the city, at La Porte Maillot and La Porte des Lilas.

He hopes one day they will have a chance to plant a mini-forest in the heart of Paris, adding that they were adapting their tree-planting methods and learning all the time. He also hopes that others will decide to plant their own pocket forests, and that those feeling anxious about climate change will be encouraged to take action. Downloadable step-by-step instructions for forest planting are outlined at J’agis je plante (I act, I plant), on the Boomforest website, and other mini-forest groups in France such as MiniBigForest and Toulouse in Transition.

By late afternoon, the rain had grown heavier. But the volunteers’ enthusiasm showed no sign of waning. Nearly half of the 250 square metres they wanted to reforest that weekend had been dug and laid with saplings. When Boomforest’s budget allows, they hope to return to plant more on the 800 square metres total they have been allocated.

Over the next few months, in the spring and then the autumn, Boomforest’s regular volunteers will return to the newly planted forest to remove any weeds that might compete with the young trees and monitor their progress.

In just three years, the new forest will be autonomous. In 10 years’ time Boomforest hopes it will have the appearance of a 100-year-old natural forest.

Valla hopes that her grandson will return to the forest in the spring, and in many years to come.

“I hope he’ll come here to walk around and say, ‘Hey, I really did something here’.”

Volunteers braved the cold and rain to plant saplings on 250 square metres of land given to them by Val de Marne authorities, on January 14, 2023.
Volunteers braved the cold and rain to plant saplings on 250 square metres of land given to them by Val de Marne authorities, on January 14, 2023. © Charlotte Wilkins, FRANCE 24



Source link

#Volunteers #plant #miniforests #Paris #slow #climate #change #tackle #heatwaves

The world hitting ‘peak baby’ and other stories you might have missed this year

From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, 2022 was full of big stories.

After two years dominated by COVID-19, these headlines took attention away from a pandemic that stubbornly rages on.

We’ve compiled a list of your 15 most-read for the year.

Anthony Albanese led Labor back from the political wilderness in 2022. (AP: Rick Rycroft)

After almost a decade in the political wilderness, Australian voters returned Labor to office in 2022, led by Anthony Albanese.

While self-described “bulldozer” Scott Morrison had made a last-ditch pitch to voters to keep him in power, his unpopularity would play a key role in a raft of Coalition seat losses.

Former treasurer Josh Frydenberg was just one of those high-profile candidates sent packing, amidst a so-called “teal” (independent) wave.

A disgruntled-looking Novak Djokovic spreads his arms wide as he looks down at the court  after a point during a match.
The federal government spectacularly deported Novak Djokovic ahead of the Australian Open. (AP: Kamran Jebreili)

Confusion reigned in January when nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was granted an exemption to travel to Australia without being vaccinated against COVID-19.

With Melburnians having spent more than 260 days in lockdown, there was also a fair share of public anger at the seeming double standard.

The federal government subsequently stepped in, announcing that it would deport the 34-year-old, with Djokovic spending the night in immigration detention as his lawyers appealed.

The fiasco made headlines around the world, with the world number one eventually deported on the eve of the tournament.

A man in a suit stands in front of a red backdrop.
At least 6,702 civilians have died since Russia invaded Ukraine. (AP: Sergei Bobylev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo)

News first broke in February that Russian President Vladimir Putin had authorised a military operation in the Eastern European country.

As of December, war still rages in Ukraine, with scores of civilians dead and millions displaced.

A recent UN report, released on December 4, estimated that 6,702 civilians had died, with Russian forces killing at least 441 in the first weeks of the invasion.

All is not going to plan for Putin, however, with discussion recently turning to the possibility of Ukraine recapturing all of its southern territory — even liberating Crimea.

A huge grey cloud rises from a submarine volcano, as a forked bolt of lightnight hits the left side of the rising ash plume.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted off Tonga in January, causing widespead chaos.(Reuters: Tonga Geological Services)

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption came to a powerful climax in the middle of January, causing tsunamis locally as well as in New Zealand, Japan, the US, Russia and Peru, to name a few.

Australia’s east coast and islands were also issued tsunami alerts, while at least six people were reported dead.

NASA later declared that the Tongan tsunami was hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.

Constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold smiles with the police badge behind them.
Constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold were killed in a deadly siege in rural Queensland in December.(ABC News: Lewi Hirvela/Supplied: Queensland Police Service)

Two police officers and a member of the public lost their lives in horrific circumstances in December, after police were called out to a property in Wieambilla, west of Brisbane, searching for a missing Dubbo man.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said Constable Rachel McCrow (29), Constable Matthew Arnold (26) and neighbour Alan Dare (58) were killed in a “ruthless, calculated and targeted execution”.

“Just such a tragedy, this should never happen,” Leavers said.

“They’re both under 30, they’ve hardly lived life and their lives have been cut short.”

Rapid antigen test kits for detecting COVID-19
Should you be asking for an antibody test to see if you’ve been infected with COVID-19?(ABC News: Tara Cassidy)

This article starts with a scene from the start of the year that could well describe the situation today.

Omicron cases are much higher than official numbers, and it’s increasingly difficult to access a PCR test to find out whether or not the scratch in your throat is COVID or hayfever.

So how do you know if you’ve actually been infected with COVID-19?

Antibody tests can answer that question (depending on the time frame in which the test is done, and whether you mounted a detectable response to infection), but experts like AMA vice-president Chris Moy say there should be a clear clinical reason for conducting them.

A good example of when an antibody test might be appropriate is if someone is experiencing symptoms consistent with long-COVID.

hundreds of little human models in a big crowd
The world is now inhabited by over 8 billion people, but there may never be more children alive than there are today.

By the time you read this paragraph, the world’s population grew by around 20 people, writes Casey Briggs.

That’s about the best way to wrap your head around what it means for the world to be inhabited by eight billion people.

But while population growth has been rapid — increasing by seven billion in the last two centuries — we are now at “peak baby”, meaning there will never again be more children alive than there are today.

That’s in part because fertility rates are plummeting across the globe, although trends differ geographically: just eight countries are projected to be responsible for more than half the world’s population increase by 2050.

a young girl smiling and holding an umbrella
Charlise Mutten, 9, was on holiday in the Blue Mountains before she was allegedly murdered by her mother’s fiancé.(Supplied)

Five days after nine-year-old Charlise Mutten was last seen in the Blue Mountains, police charged 31-year-old Justin Stein with her murder.

Police alleged Stein, who was engaged to Charlise’s mother, acted alone, after Charlise’s remains were found in a barrel in the bush near the Colo River.

A number of inconsistencies in Stein’s story raised suspicions, including his purchase of 20 kilogram sandbags from a hardware store, and fuel for his boat.

Charlise lived with her grandmother in Coolangatta in Queensland, but had been holidaying in NSW with her mother and Mr Stein.

Stan Grant speaks about not being seen as a human being image
Stan Grant wasn’t afraid to talk about the big issues facing First Nations people in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death. (Four Corners )

In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, Stan Grant’s analysis focused on the stuff “we aren’t supposed to talk about”: colonisation, empire, violence, Aboriginal sovereignty and the republic.

He wrote of his anger at the ongoing suffering and injustice of First Nations people — in particular those “languishing in cells. Those who take their own lives. Those who are caught in endless cycles of despair”.

He also reflected on the inevitable online abuse he and his family would receive in the wake of his column, before resolving not to be scared into silence.

“Why? Because a voice is all we have. Because too often that voice is silenced.”

A framed photograph of Shane Warne on the cricket pitch says 'THANK YOU SHANE'.
The news that 52-year-old Shane Warne had died of a heart attack prompted a global outpouring of grief. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

For many, “Warnie” was larger than life, a once-in-a-generation cricketer famous for reinvigorating the art of leg spin, as well as his embodiment of the “Aussie larrikin” trope.

So it was with great shock that many responded to the news that he had died of a heart attack in Thailand, aged just 52, leaving behind the three children he had with his former wife Simone Callahan.

It led to an outpouring of grief around the world, with Premier Daniel Andrews offering a state funeral and the MCG rebranding the Great Southern Stand the “Shane Warne Stand” in the Victorian’s honour.

The Foo Fighters lead singer and guitarist, Dave Grohl, with drummer, Taylor Hawkins.
Taylor Hawkins (left) had been the Foo Fighters’ drummer for the last 25 years.(AP: Kevin Winter)

The announcement that Taylor Hawkins had died at age 50 came just hours before the Foo Fighters were due to take the stage at a Colombian music festival in Bogota.

Hawkins had been the band’s drummer for the last 25 years, taking over from original drummer William Goldsmith in 1997.

Apart from founder Dave Grohl (formerly of Nirvana), he was arguably the most recognisable face of the band, and is survived by his wife Alison and their three children.

Water rises over a riverfront restaurant precinct, making the restaurants look like part of the river
South-east Queenslanders were hit with “unrelenting walls of water” in February. (Supplied: Shae Laura)

In February, south-east Queensland was battered by what Premier Anastacia Palaszcuk described as “unrelenting walls of water”.

Multiple lives were lost as thousands of homes flooded, tens of thousands were evacuated, schools were closed and businesses were left without power.

It was just the start of a series of floods that would occur in Queensland and New South Wales over the coming months, devastating communities in both states.

A woman with long brown hair and a green blouse smiles while looking at the camera.
Julia Hunt wants to destigmatise public housing in Australia.(Supplied: Julia Hunt)

Victorian Liberal MP Wendy Lovell offended many in March when she told parliament that social housing should not be placed in affluent suburbs.

This article explores the stigma of growing up in social housing, and its increasing association — from the 1970s onwards — with “crime and criminality, disorder, anti-social behaviour [and] welfare dependency”.

Author Bridget Judd explores the efforts of youth worker Julia Rudd and others to combat “postcode discrimination”, writing: “For those living in public housing, it’s not an abstract policy discussion, it’s home.”

Rain on the lense
BOM didn’t have good news for us about the long-term weather outlook. (Matt Grbin)

Natural disasters (and the ongoing effects of climate change) were in the headlines again in October, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) releasing a long-range forecast — until April 2023 — for Australia’s “upcoming severe weather season”.

The state-by-state forecast warned of an increased risk of widespread flooding for eastern and northern Australia, as well as an increased risk of an above-average number of tropical cyclones and tropical lows.

None of it read like great news, as many of us are experiencing currently.

The Queen shaking hands with Liz Truss in a living room
Liz Truss was sworn in by Queen Elizabeth II just two days before the monarch died. (Reuters: Jane Barlow)

Liz Truss’ prime ministership might have lasted just 44 days, but it will be remembered for the most dramatic series of events.

Truss was famously sworn in by Queen Elizabeth II on September 6, just two days before the monarch died.

She then implemented a raft of economic measures that saw the world’s sixth-biggest economy abruptly crash, saved only by extraordinary interventions from the Bank of England.

After a series of humiliations and U-turns, the British tabloid the Daily Star then set up a live feed of an unrefrigerated iceberg lettuce, asking who would last longer, the lettuce or Truss.

The lettuce won.

Source link

#world #hitting #peak #baby #stories #missed #year

Biodiversity: ‘A victim of global warming and one of the major tools to fight against it’

After the COP27 climate conference, representatives from around the world gathered in Montreal this week for the COP15 meeting dedicated to biodiversity. Scientists say leaders face a crucial challenge: agreeing on a common way forward to safeguard biodiversity by 2030 in order to preserve plant and animal life and help combat climate imbalance.

Wildlife populations have fallen by 69 percent globally in the past 50 years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in an October 2022 report. At the same time, land degradation – including deforestation, soil erosion and loss of natural areas – now affects up to 40 percent of the Earth’s land and half of humanity, according to the UN. These alarming figures are the backdrop for the COP15 conference on biodiversity that began on December 7 in Montreal with an ambitious objective: to agree a new global framework for safeguarding the natural world.

“The stakes are crucially high: we are currently living through a biodiversity crisis,” says Philippe Grandcolas, entomologist and research director at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). “Biodiversity is essential to human survival. It ensures that we can feed ourselves, have access to drinking water, and it plays a major role in our health. But, above all, biodiversity plays an indispensable role in the stability of the planet.”

At present, 70 percent of ecosystems around the world are in a state of degradation, largely due to human activity – a rate of decline described as “unprecedented and dangerous” by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

In addition, more than 1 million species are threatened with extinction. Vertebrates, which include mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians and make up five percent of all animal species, are especially under threat. “Our previous report found that there had been a 68 percent fall among the total [vertebrate] population [over 50 years],” says Pierre Cannet, director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF France. In 2022 that figure has risen to 69 percent. “Losing one percent in two years is massive. For species that already have small populations, it could mean extinction.”

Climate imbalance: A growing threat 

According to the IPBES, the most significant driving factor of the ”biodiversity crisis” is change in how land is used and fragmentation of natural space, most often due to agriculture. This is followed by overfishing, hunting and poaching. There is a tie for third place between climate imbalance, pollution and invasive species.

“In the majority of cases there are multiple factors at play,” says Grandcolas. “But climate imbalance is becoming the most significant threat. The more it escalates, the more it disturbs ecosystems and has an impact on flora and fauna.”

There are plenty of examples of this impact. In the past 30 years elephant populations in African forests have fallen by 86 percent. The main causes are poaching and black market trade, causing the death of 20,000 to 30,000 elephants per year, according to the WWF. But repeated cycles of drought and flood are also having an impact on access to fresh water – a vital resource for the species as each animal consumes around 150 to 200 litres per day. Without it their survival is at risk.

Similarly, leatherback sea turtles in Suriname have seen their populations fall by 95 percent in 20 years. This is due in part to destruction of their habitat caused by human intervention and illegal fishing. But climate instability is also disrupting their reproduction rates as sea level rise has destroyed and disrupted turtle nesting beaches.

A leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) digging a nest on the beach in Trinidad. © Konrad Wothe, WWF

Mass deaths 

“Currently there are a few species that are classed having climate change as the reason for their extinction,” says Camille Parmesan, research director at CNRS and author of the first report of its kind on the links between climate change and biodiversity, produced by IPBES and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2021. Yet this is the reason for the demise of the Bramble Cay melomys: “a species of little rodent that lived on the small islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Scientists proved that their disappearance was due to their habitat being submerged [by the sea],” Parmesan says.

“We have also noted the disappearance of 92 amphibian species, killed by the growth of a type of fungus. We have proof that it developed due to climate instability which modified ecosystems and created the right conditions for it to thrive.”

The number of species that are officially classed as having died out due to climate instability may be low, but increasing extreme weather events are causing mass deaths among mammals, birds, fish and trees. “In Australia, we counted 45,000 flying fox deaths [a type of bat] in a single day during a heatwave”, Parmesan says. In France, record summer heat in 2022 caused temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea to rise to levels that killed thousands of fish and shellfish.

>> Biodiversity: Ocean ‘dead zones’ are proliferating due to global warming

Yet, disappearing species is not the only consequence of climate change. “We can also add behaviour changes, notably migrations induced by climate modifications,” Parmesan adds. “Certain species try to move to [new] habitats that are more favourable but this can cause even more disruption in ecosystems.”

Biodiverse carbon storage 

Shrinking biodiversity also has multiple consequences on human life. In some parts of the world it can disrupt economies reliant on fishing or hunting and negatively impact the tourism industry.

“It’s a vicious circle. Biodiversity is a victim of global warming, but it is also one of the major tools to fight against it”, says Sébastien Barot, researcher at French public research institution Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD).

From plant life to animal species, individual elements of the natural world all contribute to regulating and supporting the environment as a whole. Bardot says, “water and earth play a role in filtering pollution, and bumblebees are essential for plant reproduction”.

But when one element is compromised the rest can suffer too. “The survival of the planet depends on a fine balance,” says Grandcolas. “Imagine a group of frogs suddenly die in a habitat. As insignificant as that may seem, it will have an impact: by disappearing they modify the conditions of the environment. This could allow other species to develop, damage plant life and lead to progressive destruction of the ecosystem, which will then no longer be able to play its role as a climate regulator.”

Nowhere is this more evident that with carbon storage. Scientists estimate that the earth and sea currently absorb almost 50 percent of C02 created by human activity.  “Forests, wetlands, mangrove swamps and even deep water are real C02 sinks. When they disappear, emissions are released into the atmosphere,” Barot says.

Consequently, “when we see a forest burn, we are watching a carbon sink disappear”, says Grandcolas. In this way, “[the presence of] plant life has an obvious impact on the climate.”

Two crises, one solution? 

Experts agree on the need to tackle both the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis at the same time. “We tend to treat them as separate entities, but they go hand in hand,” says Grandcolas. “They should be seen as a joint struggle with equal importance. For this to happen, we need to give nature the space it deserves.”

Scientists and the WWF have called for more nature-based solutions for both issues. One of the most prominent is increasing protected habitats, which currently make up 17 percent of land and eight percent of ocean globally. “We need to increase that to 30-50 percent of the planet,” says Grandcolas. A significant step towards this goal, he adds, would be better global policies for fighting deforestation as preserving forests has the potential to both protect biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“There are also many things to consider in terms of agriculture,” says Barot. “We need agriculture systems that are more durable such as developing agroecology and agroforestry. We can improve how cultivated land is managed and limit use of fertilizer … which would help both biodiversity and the climate.”

“Protection alone is no longer enough; 70 percent of land is now in a degraded state,” Parmesan adds. “It is essential to put stronger policies in place for restoring ecosystems. That would enable us to recreate habitats for animals and plants, and the climate benefits would follow.” For this to be successful a holistic approach is needed. “There’s no point planting trees purely to compensate for carbon emissions,” Parmesan says. “It needs to be done with respect for balance in the ecosystem. Big plantations filled with monocultures are not good for biodiversity or for the climate because they are more vulnerable to climate risks.”

The three scientists estimate that nature-based solutions could provide around a third of necessary climate mitigation measures even if other steps, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, must come from changes in human behaviour.

Many such solutions are up for discussion at the COP15 biodiversity conference. Even so, other issues – namely money – may dominate. Supported by 22 other countries, Brazil has requested that rich nations provide “at least $100 billion per year until 2030” to developing countries in order to finance nature protection initiatives. The request is yet to receive a response.

This article was adapted from the original in French

Source link

#Biodiversity #victim #global #warming #major #tools #fight

Paul Polman: The world needs a Marshall Plan to fight climate change–and politicians are failing to show ambition. Business can’t afford to wait



The COP27 climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh were a missed opportunity. The pledge to keep global temperature rises under 1.5 degrees is just about alive, affirmed by G20 leaders in Bali–but there’s no clear plan to deliver it.

The Sharm deal doesn’t include a commitment to phase out all fossil fuels or any guarantee that emissions will peak by 2025. Current national carbon reduction targets get us closer to a devastating three-degree rise. A powerful group of blockers–mainly oil-rich governments and companies–were out in force.

There were bright spots. By creating a new fund for “loss and damage,” rich countries are finally taking some financial responsibility for producing most of the emissions already causing mayhem in poorer countries. This is a significant breakthrough for a multilateral system dangerously low on trust. Let’s hope the money follows.

More governments committed to methane cuts. Enhancing nature and reforming food systems were formally recognized as part of the climate fight. And tighter measures were proposed to avoid greenwashing.

However, the urgency of the crisis is clearly still lost on many of our political leaders. Collectively, they are failing to deliver the ambition and action on which our planet and future depend. This situation is not going to magically improve. Next year’s COP28 will be held in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates–and will be just as easily hijacked.

There will be no great superpower pact to save us: despite diplomatic baby steps between Washington and Beijing, their cooperation will be limited as long as Russian tanks are in Ukraine and America fears for Taiwan’s security. Even with the U.S., Australia, and Brazil back at the table, ongoing troubles in the global economy and high inflation threaten to push global warming down domestic agendas (even though tackling climate change is the best way to stabilize energy and food prices).

Business literally can’t afford to sit back and wait for politics to get its act together. Climate isn’t just an environmental issue: it’s the economy, stupid. Extreme floods, heat waves, wildfires, and hurricanes cost billions. They send impoverished nations further into debt, while crippling supply chains, disrupting global trade, and destroying the labor force. Whether you are a C-Suite executive, an investor, or the WTO, you have a major interest in getting the world onto a more stable path. There are tremendous gains waiting for those who move quickly. The shift to a low-carbon economy can add trillions of dollars to global growth each year, and create millions of jobs.

Even as politics stalls, business can still push ahead. Beyond companies getting their own houses in order, there are three immediate things business leaders can do.

The first is advocating for much-needed reform of our global financial architecture. The idea that we will need a Marshall Plan-style intervention to finance the shift to a greener economy is starting to gain traction. CEOs can help bring it into the mainstream.

The fringes of Sharm saw much discussion of Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s Bridgetown Agenda, which calls for climate to be fully integrated into the mandates of the post-WW2 Bretton Woods institutions, which would dramatically increase the resilience and capacity of the Global South.

Professor Lord Stern has calculated that, if developed countries significantly increase grants and low-interest loans through expanded aid, it could attract $1 trillion of private investment to help finance the transition. Such proposals warrant urgent investigation–and business can demand it.

Second, senior executives can do more to lead vital partnerships for change. Across industry, government, and civil society, we will have to collaborate on climate in ways we never envisaged. It’s starting to happen–and it’s time to ramp up the speed and scale of collaboration.

In Bali, we helped launch the Global Blended Finance Alliance, including the biggest ever single climate transaction, which mobilizes $20bn from governments and private finance to support Indonesia’s effort to close coal mines and peak its emissions early.

Led by the Rockefeller Foundation (where I sit on the board) another coalition of investors, entrepreneurs, and public officials will bring clean energy to 1 billion people, including many in Africa.

And business and farmers aim to dramatically scale regenerative agriculture and improve livelihoods within seven years through the Regen10 initiative.

Third, is bringing more young people to the table, fast. The young activists I met in Sharm were sharp, determined, and sick of being patronized. They are powerful–as employees and consumers, as our sons and daughters, as the next generation of leaders, and as voters. Many are frustrated with the political process and look to the private sector to empower them in a new, intergenerational alliance that has an impact on the real economy. Here too, business can act: put them on boards, on panels, in leadership positions, and in every room where decisions affecting their futures will be taken.

There’s no need to feel hopeless–but we must recognize that our politics is failing to deliver vital climate action. We must find other ways to close the ambition gap, get the money moving, get business driving urgent coalitions, and make sure young people are firmly in the driving seat. Then, it will be up to politics to catch up.

Paul Polman is a business leader and campaigner, and the author of Net Positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take.

The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

More must-read commentary published by Fortune:

Our new weekly Impact Report newsletter will examine how ESG news and trends are shaping the roles and responsibilities of today’s executives—and how they can best navigate those challenges. Subscribe here.



Source link

A breakthrough on climate compensation and seven other takeaways from COP27


They got there in the end. After dawn on Sunday morning in Egypt, bleary-eyed ministers adopted a final agreement for COP27 and completed more than two weeks of U.N. climate negotiations in the Sinai peninsula.

The deal included a historic provision to set up a fund to help poorer countries face the harm caused by climate change, and that outcome was understandably celebrated by nations on the front line of a warming world. “A mission 30 years in the making has been accomplished,” said Molwyn Joseph, the minister from Antigua and Barbuda and chair of the AOSIS group of small island nations.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW



Source link

The big new Exxon Mobil climate change deal that got an assist from Joe Biden


Could it be that Big Oil’s next big thing got a big assist from Joe Biden?

Maybe, if carbon capture and storage is indeed as big a deal as ExxonMobil’s first-of-its-kind deal to extract, transport and store carbon from other companies’ factories implies.

The deal, announced last month, calls for ExxonMobil to capture carbon emitted by CF Industries‘ ammonia factory in Donaldsonville, La., and transport it to underground storage using pipelines owned by Enlink Midstream. Set to start up in 2025, the deal is meant to herald a new stage in dealing with carbon produced by manufacturers, and is the latest step in ExxonMobil’s often-tense dialogue with investors who want oil companies to slash emissions.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August, may determine whether deals like Exxon’s become a trend. The law expands tax credits for capturing carbon from industrial uses in a bid to offset the high up-front costs of plans to capture carbon from places like CF’s plant, as other tax credits in the law lower costs of renewable power and electric cars.

The Inflation Reduction Act and Big Oil

The law may help oil companies like ExxonMobil build profitable businesses to replace some of the revenue and profit they’ll lose as EVs proliferate. Though the company isn’t sharing financial projections, it has committed to investing $15 billion in CCS by 2027 and ExxonMobil Low-Carbon Solutions president Dan Ammann says it may invest more.

“We see a big business opportunity here,” Ammann told CNBC’s David Faber. “We’re seeing interest from companies across a whole range of industries, a whole range of sectors, a whole range of geographies.”

The deal calls for ExxonMobil to capture and remove 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly from CF’s factory, equivalent to replacing 700,000 gasoline-powered vehicles with electric versions.

Each company involved is pursuing its own version of the low-carbon industrial economy. CF wants to produce more carbon-free blue ammonia, a process that often involves extracting ammonia’s components from carbon-laden fossil fuels. Enlink hopes to become a kind of railroad for captured CO2 emissions, calling itself the would-be “CO2 transportation provider of choice” for an industrial corridor laden with refineries and chemical plants.

An industrial facility on the Houston Ship Channel where Exxon Mobil is proposing a carbon capture and sequestration network. Between this industry-wide plan and its first deal for another company’s CCS needs, ExxonMobil is hoping that its low-carbon business quickly scales to a legitimate source of revenue and profit.

CNBC

Exxon itself wants to develop carbon capture as a new business, Amman said, pointing to a “very big backlog of similar projects,” part of the company’s pledge to remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as Exxon itself emits by 2050.

“We want oil companies to be active participants in carbon reduction,” said Julio Friedmann, a deputy assistant energy secretary under President Obama and chief scientist at Carbon Direct in New York. “It’s my expectation that this can become a flagship project.”

The key to the sudden flurry of activity is the Inflation Reduction Act.

“It’s a really good example of the intersection of good policy coming together with business and the innovation that can happen on the business side to tackle the big problem of emissions and the big problem of climate change,” Ammann said. “The interest we are seeing, the backlog, are all confirming this is starting to move and starting to move quickly.”

The law increased an existing tax credit for carbon capture to $85 a ton from $45, Goldman said, which will save the Exxon/CF/Enlink project as much as $80 million a year. Credits for captured carbon used underground to enhance production of more fossil fuels are lower, at $60 per ton.

“Carbon capture is a big boys’ game,” said Peter McNally, global sector lead for industrial, materials and energy research at consulting firm Third Bridge. “These are billion-dollar projects. It’s big companies capturing large amounts of carbon. And big oil and gas companies are where the expertise is.”

Goldman Sachs, and environmentalists, are skeptical

A Goldman Sachs team led by analyst Brian Singer called the law “transformative” for climate reduction technologies including battery storage and clean hydrogen. But its analysis is less bullish when it comes to the impact on carbon capture projects like Exxon’s, with Singer expecting more modest gains as the law accelerates development in longer-term projects. To speed up investment more, companies must build CCS systems at greater scale and invent more efficient carbon-extraction chemistry, the Goldman team said.

Industrial uses are the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., according to the EPA. That’s narrowly behind both electricity production and transportation. Emissions reduction in industrial uses is considered more expensive and difficult than in either power generation or car and truck transport. Industry is the focus for CCS because utilities and vehicle makers are looking first to other technologies to cut emissions.

Almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity last year came from renewable sources that replace coal and natural gas and another 19 percent came from carbon-free nuclear power, according to government data. Renewables’ share is rising rapidly in 2022, according to interim Energy Department reports, and the IRA also expands tax credits for wind and solar power. Most airlines plan to reduce their carbon footprint by switching to biofuels over the next decade.

More oil and chemical companies seem likely to get on the carbon capture bandwagon first. In May, British oil giant BP and petrochemical maker Linde announced a plan to capture 15 million tons of carbon annually at Linde’s plants in Greater Houston. Linde wants to expand its sales of low-carbon hydrogen, which is usually made by mixing natural gas with steam and a chemical catalyst. In March, Oxy announced a deal with a unit of timber producer Weyerhauser. Oxy won the rights to store carbon underneath 30,000 acres of Weyerhauser’s forest land, even as it continues to grow trees on the surface, with both companies prepared to expand to other sites over time.

Still, environmentalists remain skeptical of CCS.

Tax credits may cut the cost of CCS to companies, but taxpayers still foot the bill for what remains a “boondoggle,” said Carroll Muffett, CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington. The biggest part of industrial emissions comes from the electricity that factories use, and factory owners should reduce that part of their carbon footprint with renewable power as a top priority, he said.

“It makes no economic sense at the highest levels, and the IRA doesn’t change that,” Muffett said. “It just changes who takes the risk.”

Friedman countered by saying economies of scale and technical innovations will trim costs, and that CCS can reduce carbon emissions by as much as 10 percent over time.

“It’s a rather robust number,” Friedmann said. “And it’s about things you can’t easily address any other way.”



Source link

Rainn Wilson announces name change to raise climate change awareness | CNN





CNN
— 

Rainn Wilson has “changed” his name and is inviting others to do the same.

“The Office” actor debuted “Rainnfall Heat Wave Rising Sea Levels Wilson” on social media Thursday as a way to raise awareness about the climate control crisis.

“As a cheap little stunt to help save planet Earth, I’ve changed my name on Twitter, Instagram and even on my fancy writing paper,” he said in a video he shared on his verified social media accounts.

In the Twitter thread that included the video, Wilson added that he was unable to change his name on Twitter “… because Elon,” referencing guidelines implemented on the platform by new owner Elon Musk.

Wilson encouraged his followers to visit environmental advocacy group Arctic Basecamp’s “Arctic Name Changer” to get their own names to be used on their social media profiles in the hopes of capturing the attention of the world leaders assembling in Egypt for the COP27 international climate change conference.

“And if enough of us do this, then maybe @cop27_egypt will be where our world leaders sit up and notice Arctic risks and introduce a solution,” he tweeted. “Make Arctic Name Changer a Game Changer!”





Source link